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Writers Javier Grillo-Marxuach and Genevieve Valentine Talk About the Return of Xena

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Javier Grillo-Marxuach (Lost, The Middleman) was recently made showrunner of the upcoming Xena: Warrior Princess television reboot. Genevieve Valentine (Catwoman) is the writer on the new Xena: Warrior Princess ongoing comic from Dynamite. Now, these two genre faves have gotten together to talk about what makes Xena’s story so epic.

In an awesome interview over at io9, Grillo-Marxuach and Valentine interviewed each other about Xena, which made for some really interesting conversation. For starters, Valentine asked Grillo-Marxuach why he thinks people keep wanting to tell Xena stories, and he brings up the fact that Xena came at a time in television when things like feminism weren’t a part of the national conversation:

There’s two reasons. One is that Xena and Gabrielle represented something that, just plain did not exist in TV at the time… it’s hard to imagine that 1995 was before the phrase “The Bechdel Test” was part of the mainstream critical vernacular, and that single-female-led shows like Alias were still some six years away for the major networks. Even for someone like me (and I can’t say that at the time “feminism” was the first thing I looked for in my first run syndicated action-adventure-fantasy) it was clear that this was something different, and that it offered not just the thrills and sex appeal, but also a genuinely different and, frankly, enlightening relationship at its core. Xena helped a lot of people—myself included—finally embrace the potential of female-driven shows in the genre space.

In the Xena comic, Valentine is playing with the classic Xena world we all know and love. Grillo-Marxuach asked her what she’s looking forward to playing with the most:

The thing I might be most excited to center in my story is the tension between Xena’s past and Gabrielle’s future. They meet one another when Xena’s trying to shake off a loaded lifetime full of people and events that shaped her so she can make amends, and Gabrielle’s just trying to live a life at all. As they grow together over the course of the series, it’s interesting to see how each of them tries to negotiate the oncoming world. On the one hand, you have a penance-ready Xena flashback for every occasion, which is great, and means I can include a lot of characters while honoring a 25-year time jump. But Gabrielle’s the Queen of the Amazons, she has visions, and she’s a bard—someone trying to shape the future with stories. Xena’s essential question at that point is “How can I help?” and Gabrielle’s is “What can I do?”, and often those work in sync—but sometimes they absolutely don’t, and that’s something I’m looking forward to digging into. (Also I’m desperate to have them infiltrate a casino, obviously.)

While Grillo-Marxuach is excited that he gets to mix it up a bit more, since he’s doing the reboot, fans needn’t worry about Xena losing what makes her truly special. He says:

People have been asking me if it’s going to be set in the modern day (if that were the case, I wouldn’t have signed on or come near the thing) and whether or not Xena is going to have a Chakram (to which I always reply “Of course she’s gonna have a Chakram, what am I, a monster?”). As you mentioned, a great deal of the appeal of the show lies in certain pulpy elements—like Gabrielle’s bare midriff, Xena’s leather miniskirt, Callisto’s amazing and gravity-defying… well, you get it—and it’s hard for me in the post-Brienne of Tarth era to reconcile with the idea that Xena and her friends can meet every challenge in such skimpy outfits. I think we are going to have some very lengthy discussions about how to bring those elements into the present day without missing the boat on what makes Xena exactly what she is; and how to have our cake and eat it too. There are a few things that are sacrosanct: the Chakram and the quarterstaff, of course, Gabrielle’s ambition to become a bard, and—most importantly—that Xena and Gabrielle be soul mates. Like I said, I’m not monster.

Meanwhile, Valentine is thrilled that she’s getting to delve into this particular point in the show’s history when writing the comic:

I’m genuinely excited to tackle this slightly bizarre point in the show’s timeline, and make Xena and Gabrielle deal with the repercussions of this giant time jump to a degree beyond what they had time to do in the show. I completely understand why the show’s momentum had to handle Eve’s story as fast as possible and then move on to something new, but I also thought it was really rich ground, and as soon as I started thinking about where in the chronology I wanted to set this story, I knew I wanted to explore the idea of Xena and Gabrielle in a world that’s left them behind. In some ways, it even puts Gabrielle in the same position Xena was in for a long time—that sense of obligation, of having to make amends—but because it wasn’t their choice, there’s also that sense of loss that accompanies it; they would have helped if they could have, but people may or may not believe that. It’s a nice crossroads to plant a story in.

If you’re excited for all the new Xena stories comin’ at’cha in the near future, you should definitely check out the full interview between Grillo-Marxuach and Valentine over at io9!

And once you’re done, come back here and talk Xena with your fellow TMS-ers! Which version of the Warrior Princess are you most excited about? What do you want to see in either incarnation? Tell us what you think in the comments below!

(image via Dynamite Entertainment)

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